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The Rewards and Challenges of Adopting a Foster Child

Adopting a child is a massive responsibility. In my opinion, even considering adopting a child is a huge undertaking in that you are considering a permanent change to your family and a permanent change to the family and life of a child that you may not even know right now. We hear a lot of people being referenced as heroes in our daily lives especially now amid a pandemic. Many of these people are well deserving of that characterization but I believe that parents who adopt children should also be included among those counted as heroes. Any adult who willingly takes on responsibility for a child amid difficult circumstances is a hero to me.

Additionally, the decision to adopt A child relates to a willingness to withstand difficult circumstances and consider primarily the needs of a child above those of your own. Parents who are willing to submit themselves to the adoption process are also people who are interested in doing for others before they do for themselves. I have seen first hand how multiple generations of families are changed through the adoption process for the better. These are typically stories that will never make news headlines but reaffirm everything good about the family unit and how it impacts our country. 

There are different ways to adopt a child. Today we're going to talk about the rewards and challenges of adopting a child who has lived in the foster care system in Texas. For most of us, the extent of our knowledge regarding foster care in Texas is not very positive. Speaking of news headlines, we will occasionally hear stories about how foster care children are abused or meet worse fates at the hands of their foster care parents. The foster care system in Texas has received scrutiny from our legal system and it seems safe to say that changes may have to be made internally to meet the lofty goals of the Department of Family Protective Services.

For today's blog post, we can leave our opinions of the foster care system at the door. I would like to share with you my thoughts on how Adopting a foster child can greatly improve the quality of life that you experience as well as that of your child. Without a doubt, adoption is a child-focused process rather than a parent-focused process. That is one thing that I will certainly give credit to the family courts, Child Protective Services in family law attorneys: that they and we emphasize in a case where it belongs: on children.

Foster care children are waiting to be adopted

The reality of the situation in Texas is that there are thousands of children in foster care currently who are waiting to be adopted. For most of these children, they have gone through negative circumstances involving their parents having their parental rights terminated and are currently in the permanent managing care of the state of Texas. The state places these children into foster care in hopes of finding a more permanent solution for them somewhere down the line. Like everything else, there is a process involved in how to be adopted a child who is in the foster care system and there are also challenges presented with doing so.

Keep in mind that the first goal of CPS in conjunction with foster care is to have that foster child reunited with their mother and father. Sometimes this is not possible and as a result, alternative means for permanent placement of the child need to be found. In many cases, a family member or friend he's willing to take on permanent management care of the child. This is ideal from the perspective of the child because he or she will already have an ongoing relationship with that friend or family member. Therefore, the transition into permanent care after the conclusion of a CPS case will be made that much easier.

There are a couple of different roads for you and your family to take as far as adopting a child is concerned. The first would be to act as a foster to adopt parents. In this type of scenario, you would be a foster parent to that child and would work towards reunification with that child's family during a CPS case. At the end of the CPS case, it will be determined whether or not reunification between the child and the family would be possible. If reunification is not found to be the best option for the child, then you would be allowed to adopt him or her.

The other road for you to become an adoptive parent in Texas is to become licensed through the state only as an adoptive parent with no foster parent relationship. In the case of being solely an adoptive parent, she would be eligible to adopt A child only when parents' parental rights have been terminated in full. For this reason, being a foster to adopt parent may be a better option because then you would be able to get a head start on developing a relationship with the child and could point to the time spent with that child as grounds for permanent placement and legal adoption.  

Another potential advantage to doing so would be due to a law in Texas that requires your perspective adopted child to live with you for at least six months before you can file for adoption. Therefore, the foster to adopt process also allows for a better transition from foster care to legal adoption. You would have already have built a relationship with this child and have had a child in your care for at least one year which is the minimum length for many CPS cases. 

How to adopt A child in Texas: a step by step guide

To adopt A child in foster care in Texas you must work with an adoption agency. Multiple agencies are licensed through the state and each agency will differ in how their policy's function. Generally speaking, however, most of the steps and requirements for adoption in Texas are the same or very similar. The differences relate to peripheral tissues such as training a perspective parent must undergo or stances on same-sex parent adoption.

The first step to adopting a child in Texas will be attending an informational meeting run by an adoption agency. These meetings offer you an opportunity to get answers to questions that you have had about the adoption process. Many times parents will choose to apply to become licensed through the state as either foster to adoptive parents or direct adoption parents. The paperwork can be quite detailed and difficult to complete and assistance is offered through the various adoption agencies. 

As with anything else, less qualified to become an adoptive parent. For starters, you must be over the age of 21, be stably employed, and be determined to be a responsible adult. To be considered as an adoptive parent you must also be able to present references to the state in the form of relatives and nonrelatives. If you are married then your marriage certificate must be presented along with an agreement to have a home study conducted on your home. There will also be a criminal history background check and a CPS background check to determine whether or not you have never been involved in a Child Protective Services case previously. There is training provided to you by the state that will help you to understand the issues that may be facing a foster care child that you have an interest in adopting.  

As far as home cities are concerned there are no set standards for what must be found and a home for you to be considered as a perspective adoptive parent. Keep in mind that things like having enough space for a child in terms of bedrooms, safekeeping of firearms, and generally speaking having a home that is up to code for your area should be seen as minimum standards. The bottom line is that the state will want to be sure that your home is a safe environment for a child to be in and these are basics for a family home. 

The next step in the process is for you to attend various training seminars in hopes of teaching you valuable information about the adoptive process and about what you are likely to encounter in attempting to become an adoptive parent. Again, the training that you will undergo is not rocket science but it does cover very crucial topics like how to perform first aid, basic CPR skills as well as understanding how to administer medication for children with behavioral problems.  

If you have made it past these steps in the process then you will be in a position to become a licensed perspective adoptive parent. This process is not done overnight there may be issues that need to be worked out regarding your home study or other problems in completing training, for example. You should plan on the process taking anywhere from six months to one year to complete wait for you to be paired with a child to the state that will begin after this initial waiting period has ended.  

Are you able to select the child that you adopt? 

A reasonable question to ask at this stage in the process would be if you can select the child that you adopt through Child Protective Services? The answer to that question is that as a foster parent you can set certain guidelines up for the type of child that you would feel most comfortable parenting. The age, sex, in the number of children from a family can be specified. If you have a preference as to whether or not you parent a child with autism or any other behavioral concerns you can mention that as well in your application. 

Keep in mind that the more strict you are in your parameters on parenting a child the more difficult it can be to place a child with you. If you find yourself requesting only one certain type of child to be placed with you then you may want to reconsider being a part of the foster care program. The system needs willing parents in your ability to participate in the process would be to the advantage of many children.

The only way that a child in your foster care can be adopted is if the child's parents' parental rights are terminated. Child Protective Services would proceed with placing the child with a relative before you are considered as a potential adoptive parent. If no relative is in a position to take on this responsibility or has the desire to do so then the child would be considered for adoption. In this event, you would be in a position to file a petition to adopt the child. Keep in mind that there is a requirement that the child must have been living with you for at least six months before the filing of your petition and a judge would need to determine that you're adopting the child is in that child's best interest.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you as a prospective adoptive parent to have an attorney by your side to help with the adoption proceedings and paperwork. Even if you have preceded on your own to this point in the process the final stages of the case can become more difficult under certain circumstances. You will need to work with state agencies and the legal system to adopt A child. It always helps to have someone by your side who was experienced handling matters such as these.

If you win the right to adopt A child then paperwork will be signed with the state before ever going to court. A court hearing will be held as more of a formality than anything. A judge will question you, the state agency, and any other party to your adoption case. The questions will be centered around your involvement in the child's life and an assurance that you will do everything possible to raise this child as you would you're naturally born kin. This hearing would finalize the adoption and give you all the rights and duties of that child as any other parent would have.  

In my years of practicing law, I would have to say that these adoption hearings are among the most positive in the refreshing of any sort of legal proceeding that I can recall. Typically speaking, the parties to the adoption including the children our attending with huge smiles on their faces. Many times family court judges will have gifts for the adopted children and you and the children will be able to take a commemorative photo with the judge to remember this day moving forward. When all the final paperwork is signed and the judge approves the adoption this goes down as that child's second birthday. 

Are there financial incentives or assistance available to parents who adopt a child through the foster care system?

The Department of Family and Protective Services does provide certain assistance programs to help you and your family pay costs associated with adoption. These are typically need-based programs that offer reimbursement for expenses relating to the completion of the adoption process. Expenses like court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses can be reimbursed up to 1200 dollars. These costs are reimbursed once the adoption is complete.

Moving forward, once you are the adopted parents of a child your child will be provided with Medicaid through the state until he or she reaches the age of 18. For many families who do not have Health insurance available to them, this can be a great advantage. Consider that medical, vision, medical supplies, doctor's visits, counseling trips, and dentist visits are made available through Medicaid for families.

Finally, there is also monthly financial aid that can be provided to your family upon being selected as adoptive parents of a special needs child. This financial aid would depend on the special needs of the child and your family's financial situation. If there are additional expenses associated with placing your child into care, educational issues that require a great deal of financial wherewithal, or other important considerations to make then this aid may be extended to your family.

Questions about the material presented in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material presented in today's blog post, then I would recommend that you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations can go a long way towards helping you and your family learn more about your particular circumstances within the wider world of Texas family law. We take a great deal of pride in serving our community and see ourselves as advocates in advisors first and foremost. We understand the challenges that come along with taking on a family law case in Texas and we want to be there for our clients as long as a need persists.

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